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Community Activists Meet in Response to Givens Death

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LAWTON Okla_ 7News is continuing coverage now of Tuesday night's killing. Lawton community activists say they are outraged by Givens' death, and they're planning on starting a movement to change this dangerous trend.

William White has worked with offenders at the Comanche County Juvenile Detention Center for years. He said making an impact on violence involving youth starts with understanding the volatile dynamics they are growing up in.

White took part in a panel meeting at the Comanche County Health Department Wednesday that was convened in response to Givens' murder. Their goal was to come up with solutions to try and break the cycle of violence here in Lawton. Some of the members knew Givens. He said one member said "every situation, every death is a sad time, but it's also an opportunity to educate, inspire and help those in the community." He said when it comes to reaching at-risk youth or youthful offenders, you must first start at the point where they began to go off track.

In various neighborhoods around Lawton, young people have been exposed to crime far too early. At-Risk Youth Specialist William White said these kids grow up with an atypical set of norms.

"Some of them do not have a father," White said. "Some of them do not have a father or a mother. Many of those children may have parents who are offenders themselves and are in the penal system. Some of them are children who are second or third generation gang-member children."

White said that can easily send them down the same rocky path. Part of White's job at the JDC is to try and make offenders think about when and where they went wrong. He said he asks them a series of thought-provoking questions.

"Where they wiser as a seven year old, or are they wiser now?" White said. "Did they make better choices and have better beliefs about respect, love and hope? They all became teary eyed when they looked back at those times and realized they were hopeful. As they got older and there was no intervention there, they got on the wrong track."

White said Givens' death is a teachable moment for everyone, especially at-risk youth who could easily end up with the same fate.

"So we'll talk about what your feelings or emotions are," White said. "I am hurt, I am crushed, and I am overwhelmed. That tells you that you value life. So, we talk about when they hear that. That's a kid that didn't have to die. Do we let his life be in vain? Does that motivate you to become more successful in your endeavors and get on the right track?"

White said although Lawton has a problem with violence involving young people, the city also has competent passionate people who are working aggressively to turn it around.

 White said Wednesday's panel is working on a program to implement on-site re-education centers at apartment complexes in Lawton ravaged by crime. It would offer parenting classes, education, intervention and life skills courses to residents.

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